Hampson Hughes

How Can a Solicitor Help Me Appeal a Magistrates Court Decision?

If you have been convicted following a trial or sentencing hearing at a Magistrates Court, you have the right to appeal the decision made to the Crown Court. If successful your matter will be listed for an appeal hearing at the Crown Court and the evidence from both parties (defence and prosecution) will be re-herd again by a Crown Court judge. You must submit your appeal within 21 days of receiving your sentence. Although in some circumstances an ‘out of time’ appeal will be allowed, this is only given if there is a good reason for the appeal being late. 

When submitting an appeal, you need to decide if you wish to appeal the Sentence, Conviction or both. If you are appealing against the Conviction, you are asking the court to reconsider whether or not you should have been found guilty. If you are appealing the sentence you are accepting guilt, but asking the court to reconsider the sentence you have received. This may be the financial aspect, penalty points, a driving disqualification or any other sentence received. If you were unaware the initial hearing had taken place, you may be able to submit a Statutory Declaration instead of an appeal, more information on this can be found in our article – ‘How Do I Make a Statutory Declaration’.

After you submit your appeal, The Crown Court will make a decision on your appeal and you will generally receive a letter within 80 days of making your appeal to inform you of your hearing date/location. The hearing will most commonly be at your local/nearest Crown Court. At your hearing you will be given the chance to present you case again before the court and the prosecution will present their evidence again too. You will be notified at your hearing whether or not your appeal was successful and the sentence if not. A copy of this will also be posted out to you. 

It is important to note that on appeal the sentence you receive at Crown Court  may be greater than the one you received at Magistrates Court. This is why it’s important to obtain legal advice on the prospects of your sentence improving on appeal. If for example, there is new evidence that was not presented at your initial hearing, this will of course increase your prospects. A lot of our clients whom have contacted us to assist them in appeal, self-represented at their initial hearing and felt this hindered their ability to present their case. Therefore, wished to instruct a solicitor to increase their prospects. 

If you have been disqualified from driving as a result of the Magistrates decision, you can request your driving disqualification be suspended pending the outcome of your appeal hearing under Section 39 of The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. This is applied for on a section of your appeal form and is useful if you need use of your vehicle on a daily basis. There is no guarantee your disqualification suspension will be granted, so it’s useful to detail the effects a disqualification is having on you within your appeal form.

We would always recommended instructing a solicitor/barrister to handle your appeal, as they will be able to prepare your case sufficiently and have the legal knowledge to understand the elements you need to focus on and can identify any useful evidence you may have overlooked. If you instruct a solicitor to handle your case, they will assist you all the way from filling in and submitting your appeal form, all the way to preparing and attending your appeal hearing. If you are successful at your appeal hearing (obtain a better result than obtained at your initial hearing), your representative may be able to apply for a Defendant Cost Order. A Defendant Cost Order allows you to claim back a percentage of your legal costs incurred. 

If you need assistance submitting an appeal or have further questions, please call out motoring experts on 0330 912 2124 for further advice and assistance.

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